Found a tattered white and pink t-shirt the other day while cleaning out my crawl space, there is a great story behind that shirt, so although I am NOT a hoarder…I kept it . Eight years ago we took ‘The Tribe’ to Europe on a six week whirlwind, backpacking tour. We let the kids choose the itinerary…kinda…I mean we all know who REALLY chose, right? We had been homeschooling that year so we looked at different sights together and each child chose something they really wanted to see.
Theo, at 9, selected Legoland, Denmark, “The real one Mo-om, the original!” It was an inspiring experience albeit a little out of the way of the REST of our tour. SO, I was left with the task of finding somewhere else to visit nearby. I hit on Aarhus, there is an “educational” Old Village which tied nicely into our history lessons. It was expensive (taxis were BMW’s…hello!) not touristy, very ‘quaint’, but not so kid friendly.
We ventured into the main village around 5:00 pm on a Friday… first strike, post ‘historical’ tour. The wind was getting a little turbulent and so were the kidlets. After loading up at a grocery store…second strike, we realized the whining was about to reach epic proportions…there would be no bus ride home to make dinner…we needed food STAT! We figured our best bet was to head quickly to the downtown core …third steeee-rike and you’re out! I repeat…it was Friday, it was 5:00 pm, we were downtown in a shi shi bar & restaurant district…in EUROPE! With four snot-nosed, wind blown, audibly distraught children and three full bags of groceries. We. Were. So. Cool.
Quickly losing all hope, we dashed from place to place…by dashed…I really mean d-r-a-g-g-e-d. Each lovely eatery packed with well-dressed business folk, yeah…the suits, all wondering what freakin’ planet our bedraggled crew had dropped down from, I’m wincing NOW…eight years later!
All patience and pride exhausted we headed for the bus stop, just as we turned the corner, we looked up and one of the kids said “Look that restaurant is named after Mackie!”. (cue angels singing)
Cautiously we stepped in, our eyes adjusting to the dim interior, my heart sinking as I gazed upon yet another packed bar. But wait! A lovely hostess beckoned to us, we followed her blindly through all of the locals…suspecting she was parading us, as entertainment. She stepped aside and there in front of us was an ENORMOUS wooden table, set… Just. For. Us. (cue even more angels singing with some horns thrown in)
Within minutes, we all had a comfy place to sit, a beverage in hand and…wait for it…KIDS MENUS!!! If you haven’t traveled in Europe, you won’t appreciate this. When we were there, children were rarely seen OUT, soooo…no kid’s menus, no colouring sheets, no high chairs…we made do, but let me just tell you how overjoyed we were! Laughter, bliss, joy…ooozing out of all six of us!
“Mom, can I order a burger?”
“And dessert tooo?”
Yep, we were on the ‘Happy Happy Happy Train’ and we weren’t getting off any time soon! I started to look around and we were apparently in a Danish version of the Hard Rock Café. There was funky memorabilia plastering every corner of that joint. Before long, the food was piling out, perfection, tasted like home. They even offered to heat up the baby food that I had just found for Mackie.
McKenna, only a seven-month old babe in backpack and still on the boob, was starting to venture into solids which is not so easy while on the road. There were several brands of European baby food that she had given the baby-equivalent of a thumbs down…the ‘slobbery rasberry’, yah, all over me! Should have known then that she’d be my picky one…
Of course, since we were in heaven she LIKED this food and began gobbling it down at record speed. More laughter, more bliss and more joy ensued. Yay US! After she finished I picked her up to give her a cuddle and top her up with a bit of nursing time. She was contentedly feeding, when ...life can be cruel...she glanced up at me sweetly, opened her mouth and PROJECTILE vomited everywhere. End laughter, stop bliss, halt joy.
I am sitting at the end of the table , not really sure what to do. I remember that I had actually bought a t-shirt earlier, but to change into it would mean to go alllllllllll the way back through the bar, filled with beautifully dressed business folk, versus me, dressed in baby barf. Enter. The. Owner.
His name, NOT Mackie, but Mickey, bought the restaurant off of Mackie, who was Irish and he was British, hence all of the cool rock memorabilia…are you following? I know it’s kinda confusing, I was confused too AND covered in baby barf. At any rate, Mickey was INcredible! He loved the kids, showed them a new game and, most importantly, pulled out THE key…to the hidden bathroom, that was RIGHT beside me…wee hooo! I ducked in, baby Mackie and I got all cleaned up , yay! Then I turn around and realize that there is a drum set…in the bathroom? Cool in it’s own right, then I read the tag above…it belonged to Ringo Starr…yes THE RINGO STARR. I changed my babies butt (nearly) on a Beatle’s Drum Set, how freaken’ cool is that???
So, we spent some time getting to know the staff better. Mickey loves Canadians, so he got Theo’s Canada hat. When he found out Mackie’s name he gave her a menu and a waitresses t-shirt. Originally I had grand plans to photograph her every year in that shirt…but, hey…was busy, didn’t happen. After we were all packed up and ready to go, I realized what I really love about travel. You just have to keep going through all of the crappy shit and eventually you’ll hit the good stuff. The GREAT stuff. Like, say, a drum set from the Beatle’s in the bathroom. Best. Day. Ever.
“When life gets you down, you know what you gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.”
~ Dory, Finding Nemo.